Do you actually need a business continuity plan?
You’ve never had one before and everything’s fine. Your company is great in a crisis. Or maybe you’ve never had one, or not one that you can’t solve right away. Or maybe you’re freelance (a one-man-band) or small enough not to have to think about these things.
Those that ask the question, “Why do I/we need a business continuity plan?” are often coming from a place where they’d prefer not to go to the effort of creating and maintaining a plan. Which would be a sensible stance if they believed it might take a lot of work and offer little benefit.
So do you need a business continuity plan? The only person who can really answer that is you. Or your ultimate boss! But it’s a question often best answered by reversing the question…
Why don’t I need a business continuity plan?
A business continuity plan, or set of plans and arrangements, is designed to help streamline the process of recovering or continuing the critical activities. Its aim is to protect things like revenue streams and reputation to ensure your business survives a disruption to business-as-usual.
So there are some sound reasons why you might not want to think about continuity arrangements, such as:
- No activity is required to maintain revenue streams during or after a disruption
- There aren’t any legal or statutory requirements requiring this business to plan
- There are no points of failure that might require time or effort to restore
- It won’t help reduce insurance premiums
- There is no reputation to protect
- It doesn’t help us secure suppliers
- It doesn’t help win us business
- The business is disposable
This list isn’t comprehensive but it shows there are definitely circumstances where a plan isn’t required and would be a waste of time and effort.
Why might I need a business continuity plan?
The simple answer to this is to reverse the above list – and any other reasons that you identified:
- Activity is required to maintain the revenue streams during or after a disruption
- There are legal or statutory requirements requiring this business to plan
- There are points of failure that might require time or effort to restore
- It may help reduce insurance premiums
- There is a reputation to protect
- It may help us secure suppliers
- It may help win us business
- The business isn’t disposable
An number often quoted is how many businesses failed to survive after the New York terrorist incidents on 11 September 2011. But 9/11 is an extreme event and the chances of most businesses being directly affected by an extreme event is minimal. But even if you never encounter this, it doesn’t mean you wouldn’t be indirectly affected by the disruption to other businesses and organisations. However, it may feel more practical to think about the more common issues that can cause a business to feel compromised.
These often include the temporary or permanent loss of (or threat to):
- Workplace – this could be caused by any number of events; fire, flood, road closure, structural instability, storm, protests, power cut, etc.
- Access to key people – perhaps staff, clients or supplier contacts – this could be caused by any number of events; pandemic flu, workers’ strike, transport closures, school closures, snow, flooding, etc.
- Technology – e.g applications, hardware, network, connectivity – this caused by any number of events; supplier failure, software failure, technical error, virus, power outage, cable break, network issue, connectivity problems
- Infrastructure – e.g. power, water, financing, technology, and anything you depend on – this caused by any number of events.
By focusing on what you might want to achieve with a business continuity plan, and what issues might come up if you don’t have one, you can make sensible decisions about whether you need to pursue business continuity planning or not.
Think you need a business continuity plan? Take a look at our ‘Start Here‘ page!
Subscribe - weekly news and a free course!